We are all created with a desire to be fully loved.
Our souls crave someone to look at us and say, “I know everything about you – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and I love you.” But friends, we don’t get to experience that kind of love if we’re not willing to be vulnerable. To be fully loved, we must be fully known.
What is Vulnerability?
Here’s how Dr. John Townsend defines vulnerability in his book People Fuel:
“Vulnerability is the act of taking risks to express negative parts of ourselves in our relationships. It is ‘taking off the fig leaf’ and letting someone see and know us, naked and ashamed.”
In other words, vulnerability is putting yourself in a position where you let people see your brokenness.
And to be clear, I’m not talking about the annoyance you have with your boss or the struggle to figure out where to take your next vacation. I’m talking about the fight that made you want to leave your spouse this past weekend or the deep fears and anxieties that keep you up at night.
If that level of vulnerability makes you cringe, you’re not alone. Isn’t it interesting that the most important parts of our lives to express seem to be the hardest to express? I think that’s why author Brené Brown says that “our greatest measure of courage is the ability to be vulnerable.”
It’s Not Easy
Why does it take courage to be vulnerable?
Because vulnerable people can, and likely will, get hurt. In fact, the word vulnerable comes from a Latin word that means “to wound.” There will, unfortunately, be people who do not respond well to your vulnerability. They may shame or dismiss you when you share honestly with them. And that hurts. It deeply hurts.
But when you’ve been wounded in your vulnerability, the enemy would love nothing more than for you to turn on the thing you believe hurt you. He wants you to hate or even fear vulnerability because he knows the depth of the relationship on the other side of it.
So yes, when you’re vulnerable, you are creating the possibility of being wounded. But if we want a deep connection with others in our lives, there’s not really another option. We must take the risk.
This doesn’t mean, however, that you need to share every detail of your life with every person in your life. Wisdom and discernment are important when it comes to practicing vulnerability. So, I’m talking about sharing deeply with your closest circle of safe, trusted friends.
Some Practical Ways to be Vulnerable
How can you introduce greater vulnerability in your close friendships? Here’s one practical tip: start asking more intentional questions.
Questions that go deeper than “How was your weekend?”. Our society seems to have lost the art of deep conversations and replaced them with surface-level small talk. And while small talk feels less risky and takes less emotional effort, it results in painfully shallow relationships.
So the next time you sit down for lunch with a good friend, simply say something like, “Hey, I want to know what’s going on in your world, but more than anything, I’d love to know how YOU are doing.” That’s often-enough differentiation for people to know what you’re really asking.
Keep in mind, though, that you may need to go first. And your willingness to “go there” may be the very thing that provokes them to connect to their own deeper heart issues.
And remember that by inviting others into vulnerability, you’re offering an amazing gift: the joy and fullness of being fully known and fully loved.
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Mercy Multiplied exists to provide opportunities for all to experience God’s unconditional love, forgiveness, and life-transforming power. We offer multiple programs and resources online and onsite designed to equip people to live free and stay free in Christ. For more information about the services we offer, click here.